Cerrillos is a village midway between Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. It is the site of one of the nation’s oldest mining areas and a famed source of turquoise.
That mine has been shut down since the 1900’s, but here and there, a long-hoarded piece surfaces, worth its weight in any equally rare mineral or gemstone. In this ring, by master jeweler Arland Ben, is one such magnificent rarity – natural Cerrillos turquoise.
The brilliant green that characterizes this unique stone glows from behind a partial lacy web of rich brown matrix. The elegant form is an elongated oval.
Not content to just set this extraordinary stone, the artist has surrounded it with his trademark tiny petroglyph figures, in 14-karat gold over sterling silver.
A fan of silver feathers crowns the beautiful stone above and below, with a tiny gold hand of blessing and protection on top of it. There is even a little incised water spiral in the palm of each hand.
Against the dark silver background of the broad and scalloped shank, the gold figures glitter and gleam in the light. A hand-in-hand couple center the back of the shank, with more spirals, hands, stars, crescent moon, and a galloping mountain goat flanking them.
Arrowheads at the end of jagged lines represent lightning, and the power of the good-luck symbols extending to all four directions of the earth.
Polished silver edges the shank and the bezel that surrounds that sublime stone. A row of teeny tiny dots forms a secondary frame around the turquoise, ending in two larger domes at each end.
Wait, there’s more! On the interior, there is a row of stamped Yebechei heads – Navajo spirits – with a stamped oval at each end.
The Yebechei head stamp is quite unusual. Beauty on the inside, as well as on the outside – the Navajo ideal.
This ring is a true treasure, magnificent in design, the superb turquoise, and the profound, traditional themes.
With artistry equalled by his skill, the artist has created a ring that is wearable, and worthy of a museum, too.